September 3, 2004

7 BRIDES FOR 70 BROTHERS:

China faces future as land of boys: In the past two decades in China, female births have declined markedly compared with male births. (Robert Marquand, 9/03/04, CS Monitor)

In the past two decades in China, female births have declined markedly compared with male births. The official figure - which some say is slightly low - is 117 boys for every 100 girls, based on a 2000 census. In ordinary populations, the split is closer to 104 boys for every 100 girls. Skewed sex ratios are also appearing elsewhere in Asia, particularly India, where the ratio in the state of Punjab is 126 to 100. A tilt toward male births is also beginning to be 126 to 100. A tilt toward male births is also beginning to be seen in the Caucasus and parts of Latin America and Eastern Europe.

In the case of China, social scientists are talking about a future in which 15 percent of men won't have wives. According to Asia expert Nicholas Eberstadt, the trend, termed the "marriage squeeze," is an anthropological phenomenon partly due to China's "one child" policy that began in 1978 with the intent of slowing growth in the world's most populous country.

"The world has never before seen the likes of the bride shortage that will be unfolding in China in the decades ahead," writes Mr. Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute, in a recent study, "Power and Population in Asia."

Chinese President Hu Jintao has earmarked the imbalance as something that needs to be adjusted in the next 10 years. The government has geared up an ambitious set of financial incentives. Ultrasound exams for non-medical purposes have been illegal since 1994, but only in recent months has there been a major crackdown on the tests, which contribute to what are known here as "selective abortions." The campaign includes an education initiative, "Care for Girls," to promote the value of both sexes.


Hard to see how the People's Republic of China could be any more unstable an edifice.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 3, 2004 8:21 AM
Comments

Michael Jackson could hear the term "Land of Boys" and move there.

Posted by: John at September 3, 2004 9:34 AM

All those people who cry about the 'Yellow Peril' make me laugh. There are so many centrifugal forces operating there, that we are far more likely looking at another period of multiple Chinas and prolonged warlordism than any kind of Chinese Century.

Posted by: Bart at September 3, 2004 10:09 AM

State sanctioned and promoted homosexuality in the answer.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at September 3, 2004 11:04 AM

Even when unstable in the long-term, China's sheer size counts for something.

Given China's long history, the Twentieth Century will probably end up as "the fall of the Manchu Dynasty, a Time of Troubles, and the rise of the Communist Dynasty under its First Emperor Mao." And in turn, the Communist Dynasty will eventually fall and be replaced by another dynasty.

The danger is, if the current dynasty ends up with a short lifespan, its rulers might try to stave off The End with foreign adventures, a conquest binge (starting with Taiwan), and/or something equally nasty and destructive.

Posted by: Ken at September 3, 2004 12:12 PM

Bart;

That's been my position for years now. We need to worry more about China as a failed state than a competitor.

Ken;

I'm sure that an invasion of Taiwan would do for the ChiCom Politburo what the Falklands invasion did for the Argentinian junta.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at September 3, 2004 12:35 PM

I'm sorry I can't recall the source, but I came across that 117/100 ratio in an article that also stated that in some of the interior provinces the ratio is 140/100. 140/100 isn't quite a Gold Rush mining camp ratio, but its getting close.

Posted by: Fred Jacobsen (San Fran) at September 3, 2004 12:49 PM

The Chinese military is already factionalized. Members of the Politburo control specific military units and pay them from profits made from PLA owned companies. There may be some general who decides that they should invade Taiwan, but there will be another who will say,'And lose that Wal-Mart contract. Are you nuts?' The 'spy plane' episode is quite instructive.

The leadership of China is less a dynasty than a Board of Directors. Those who don't play ball get bounced, or disappeared. (The PRC is one of those places where 'disappear' can be a transitive verb)

Posted by: Bart at September 3, 2004 1:03 PM

>The Chinese military is already factionalized.
>Members of the Politburo control specific
>military units and pay them from profits made
>from PLA owned companies.

Isn't that just a 21st-Century take on another form of traditional Chinese politics, i.e. Warlording?

Posted by: Ken at September 3, 2004 3:25 PM

Ken,

It is precisely warlordism. Do you remember Tienanmen Square? In order to break up the demonstration, the government didn't call out 'the army.' Instead, Li Peng called out the army unit that he patronized.

Whenever a new leader is declared, he takes care of the home folks. For example, when Deng Hsiao-ping was in charge, Szechuan came first.

Posted by: Bart at September 3, 2004 10:09 PM

"There are so many centrifugal forces operating there, that we are far more likely looking at another period of multiple Chinas and prolonged warlordism than any kind of Chinese Century."

But those centrifugal forces are present in any sufficiently large country or economic unit; in most cases, people realize that they have far more to lose by breaking up in factions and stay together with a modicum of civility. And FWIW China has never really had much "warlordism" (in the sense of separate warring states) in its history; outside of the warring states period of the 3rd-6th centuries, the 13th century break-up (Mongol-imposed), and of course the civil war after the fall of the Manchus in the 1900s, it's somehow managed to stay together even as different dynasties have often violently taken each other's place. Even for a democratic nation like the USA, long-term unity has been very elusive; we fought one of the bloodiest civil wars in world history (the first total war) in the 1860s, and split up for all practical purposes during the Vietnam fiasco. In 45 years we'll also have three large, possibly competing ethnic groups, none of whom will have an absolute majority. Yet we'll probably stay together so long as the economy doesn't plummet to 1930s levels. Same for China and the EU; there are after all lots of centripetal forces to balance out the centrifugal ones in a big, wealthy nation with a large population base.

Posted by: Wes at October 2, 2004 9:29 PM

Wes:

They've far more to gain by breaking up than by staying together, as the success of the smallest particles--Taiwan, Hong Kong, etc.--demonstrates.

Posted by: oj at October 2, 2004 9:48 PM
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